63rd Gent-Wevelgem (1.HC)
Belgium, April 11, 2001
Hincapie: first American win in GW
By Jeff Jones
George Hincapie (US Postal) has triumphed in the 63rd Gent-Wevelgem semi-classic, beating Leon van Bon (Mercury) and Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) in a close photo finish. The trio were part of a five man break that escaped with 18 kilometres to go in the 215 kilometre race, with Arvis Piziks (CSC) and Nico Mattan (Cofidis) rounding out the top 5.
Hincapie hasn't won a race since 1999 (First Union GP), although he is often seen in the leading group in the classics. He made no mistake today and was one of the strongest riders in the finale, but anything could have happened with constant attacks coming from Piziks and Mattan. Even when he crossed the line, he was not at all confident that he'd pipped Van Bon, despite assurance by the TV commentators that it was so.
"I want to make sure...really," he said. "I've been needing the win, you know. My directors and the managers had confidence in me. It's been a long time since I won. I know I can win, I have to have everything right. I hope it means more victories to come."
The final selection occurred before the first ascent of the Kemmelberg (approx. 60 km to go), a tough 20% cobbled climb. 14 riders had ridden away: George Hincapie (US Postal), Nico Mattan (Cofidis), Steffen Wesemann (Telekom), Arvis Piziks (CSC), Leon van Bon (Mercury), Thor Hushovd (CA), Daniele Nardello (Mapei), Erik Zabel (Telekom), Romans Vainsteins (Domo), Chris Peers (Cofidis), Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa), Gabriele Balducci (Tacconi), Biagio Conte (Saeco), and Nico Eeckhout (Lotto).
With most of the major teams represented, the break gradually gained a few minutes advantage, and it was certain that the winners would come from it. Nico Mattan was particularly strong, but unable to get clear despite several attacks. He did however make the final move with 18 kilometres to go before Wevelgem, as those behind fought amongst themselves in the cross-winds.
The five worked well and their gap grew to 30 seconds quite quickly, and was hovering at a minute with 6 kilometres to go. Everyone expected Mattan to try and go solo, as he knows the area very well. When the attack came, George Hincapie saw the danger and jumped after him. Latvian champion Arvis Piziks (CSC) launched a strong counter-attack, with Hincapie and Van Bon joining him. This cost Nico Mattan and Steffen Wesemann valuable energy in chasing, but they eventually regained the front three.
With 500m to go, Piziks went on the left hand side, taking the rest by surprise. Steffen Wesemann did the job to close it down, and may have won had not Mattan brought Van Bon and Hincapie back (with a flat tire as well!). Van Bon could not shake off Hincapie in the final 150 metres, and Big George got him with the throw of the bike.
After the commissaires confirmed his win, Hincapie gave a huge smile of relief. "Now I guess I believe it," he said before recounting the final parts of the race. "It was very tactical - I had to chase down Nico Mattan and a lot of the guys who attacked. I knew that I was strong because I felt good on the Kemmelberg."
And now Paris-Roubaix? "That's one of my main things - Of course I want to win it. I hope to have good luck because anything can happen in Paris-Roubaix."
1 George Hincapie (USA) U.S. Postal Service 5.00.50 (42.881 km/h) 2 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Mercury-Viatel 3 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 4 Arvis Piziks (Lat) CSC-World Online 5 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis 6 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 0.41 7 Chris Peers (Bel) Cofidis 8 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 1.00 9 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 1.16 10 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola 11 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 12 Biagio Conte (Ita) Saeco Macchine Per Caffe 13 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Domo-Farm Frites 1.26 14 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 2.24 15 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Cal 6.03 16 Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) U.S. Postal Service 17 Hendrik Van Dyck (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 18 Servais Knaven (Ned) Domo-Farm Frites 19 Franck Renier (Fra) Bonjour 20 Saulius Ruskys (Ltu) Gerolsteiner 21 Davide Bramati (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 22 Roger Hammond (GBr) Collstrop-Palmans 23 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole 24 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Saeco Macchine Per Caffe 25 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team Coast 26 Mauro Radaelli (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola 27 Oscar Cavagnis (Ita) Saeco Macchine Per Caffe 28 Bert Hiemstra (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 29 Koen Beeckman (Bel) CSC-World Online 30 Antonio Cruz (USA) U.S. Postal Service 31 Eddy Serri (Ita) Alexia Alluminio 32 Fabian De Waele (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 33 Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita) Team Deutsche Telekom 34 Jens Voigt (Ger) Credit Agricole 35 Paul Van Hyfte (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 36 Sven Nijs (Bel) Rabobank 37 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 38 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 39 Luca Paolini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 6.11 40 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 6.13 41 Philippe Gaumont (Fra) Cofidis 42 Enrico Cassani (Ita) Domo-Farm Frites 43 Nicola Loda (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 44 Remco Van Der Ven (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 45 Nicolay Bo Larsen (Den) CSC-World Online 46 Tom Desmet (Bel) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 47 Mario Manzoni (Ita) Alexia Alluminio 48 Christophe Detilloux (Bel) Collstrop-Palmans 49 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast 50 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank 51 Massimo Apollonio (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola 52 Coen Boerman (Ned) Rabobank 53 Wilfried Peeters (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites 54 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis 55 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 56 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites 57 Matthew White (Aus) U.S. Postal Service 58 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis 59 Franco Ballerini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 60 Jan Van Velzen (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 61 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) Lotto-Adecco 62 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Rabobank 63 Bart Leysen (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step 7.26 64 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank 65 Piotr Wadecki (Pol) Domo-Farm Frites 7.56 66 Martin Van Steen (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 8.13 67 Matthé Pronk (Ned) Rabobank 68 Marcel Duijn (Ned) Rabobank 69 Giacomo Battistel (Ita) Alexia Alluminio 70 Grégory Barbier (Fra) Ville de Charleroi-New Systems 71 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Bonjour 72 Gerben Lowik (Ned) Raboank
2000 Geert van Bondt (Bel) Farm Frites 214 kms in 5.01.03 1999 Tom Steels (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step 208 kms in 5.15.53 1998 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Mapei-Bricobi 208 kms in 5.21.21 1997 Philippe Gaumont (Fra) 1996 Tom Steels (Bel) 1995 Lars Michaelsen (Den) 1994 Wilfried Peeters (Bel) 1993 Mario Cipollini (Ita) 1992 Mario Cipollini (Ita) 1991 Djamolidine Abduschaparov (Usb) 1990 Herman Frison (Bel) 1989 Gerrit Solleveld (Ned) 1988 Sean Kelly (Ire) 1987 Teun Van Vliet (Ned) 1986 Guido Bontempi (Ita) 1985 Eric Vanderaerden (Bel) 1984 Guido Bontempi (Ita) 1983 Teun Van Vliet (Ned) 1982 Frank Hoste (Bel) 1981 Jan Raas (Ned) 1980 Henk Lubberding (Ned) 1979 Francesco Moser (Ita) 1978 Ferdinand Van den Haute (Bel) 1977 Bernard Hinault (Fra) 1976 Freddy Maertens (Bel) 1975 Freddy Maertens (Bel) 1974 Barry Hoban (GB) 1973 Eddy Merckx (Bel) 1972 Roger Swerts (Bel) 1971 Georges Pintens (Bel) 1970 Eddy Merckx (Bel) 1969 Willy Vekenmans (Bel) 1968 Walter Godefroot (Bel) 1967 Eddy Merckx (Bel) 1966 Herman Vanspringel (Bel) 1965 Noél De Pauw (Bel) 1964 Jacques Anquetil (Fra) 1963 Benoni Beheyt (Bel) 1962 Rik Van Looy (Bel) 1961 Frans Aerenhouts (Bel) 1960 Frans Aerenhouts (Bel) 1959 Leon Van Daele (Bel) 1958 Noél Fore (Bel) 1957 Rik Van Looy (Bel) 1956 Rik Van Looy (Bel) 1955 Alberic Schotte (Bel) 1954 Rolf Graf (Swi) 1953 Raymond Impanis (Bel) 1952 Raymond Impanis (Bel) 1951 André Rossel (Bel) 1950 Alberic Schotte (Bel) 1949 Marcel Kint (Bel) 1948 Valeré Ollivier (Bel) 1947 Maurice Desempelaere (Bel) 1946 Ernest Sterckx (Bel) 1945 Robert Van Eenaeme (Bel) 1939 André Declerck (Bel) 1938 Hubert Godart (Bel) 1937 Robert Van Eenaeme (Bel) 1936 Robert Van Eenaeme (Bel) 1935 Albert Debreitere (Bel) 1934 Gustave Van Belle (Bel) Past winners kept up to date by Mario Stiehl, Berlin